Filmmaker Paula Gaitán was married to Glauber Rocha (1938-1981), a key figure in the Brazilian Cinema Novo movement, which embodied politically engaged filmmaking that resisted colonialism in Latin America. Rocha's signature films include Barravento (1961), Black God, White Devil (1964), Land in Anguish (1967), and Antonio das Mortes (1969), all remarkably influential films at the time and overdue for revival today. In Days in Sintra, Gaitán creates a deeply moving meditation on memory and time as she chronicles her return from Brazil to Sintra, Portugal, where she lived in exile with her husband and their children before his untimely death. In the form of an experimental narrative, she deftly interweaves Super 8 home movie footage and photographs taken of Rocha in 1981 with beautifully composed, evocative contemporary images of the Portuguese landscape. In this manner, Gaitán both weaves together place, uniting past and present, and highlights remembrance. Long, silent passages are gently overlaid with Gaitán's own voice meditating on memory, loss, and death, as well as with recordings of Rocha's voice, articulating his philosophies of life, politics, and filmmaking. Days in Sintra represents Gaitán's own voyage of discovery, which allows her to bring alive the physical, sensual, and even spiritual essence of her long-deceased companion. On a deeper level, the filmmaker also captures the mournful, atmospheric ether of the Portuguese nation. The proud country that launched the voyages of discovery in the 15th century has found its global position diminished with time, just as Rocha's fiercely independent, awardwinning filmmaking had faded to a faint memory-until it was justly revived by his companion in this exquisite diary film.
Paula Gaitán (b. 1954, Paris) is a visual artist, photographer, poet, and filmmaker. She studied visual arts and philosophy at Universidad de Los Andes de Bogotá, Colombia. She moved to Brazil in 1977 and has been working as an experimental cinema teacher at Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro. She is also an associate in Aruac Filmes Productions. Paula was art director for the classic Glauber Rocha film The Age of the Earth (1980). Her documentaries, video art works, and plastic art installations have been seen in Salão da Bahia and the Malba Museum, among other venues.